Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

The Lord’s my Shepherd

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

A shepherd in the ancient Near East provided not only care and nurture for the sheep, but guidance, medical attention, and protection against predators. It’s not surprising then that in the Old Testament a shepherd was a common metaphor for a king (see for example: Isaiah 44:28; Jeremiah 10:21; 23:1-6; Micah 5:4-5; Zechariah 11:4-17).

This would have been an excellent metaphor to apply to hereditary monarchs who:

  • Might be tempted to think of their calling in terms of power and privilege but not in terms of responsibility;
  • Might be more inclined to lord it over the people rather than serve them.

When we come to Ezekiel 34 we find a scathing denunciation of the shepherds who have been leading Israel (V. 1-10). There are two main charges:

  1. They have been greedily fleecing the sheep, exploiting the flock to make themselves comfortable and rich, but they have not nurtured and cared for the sheep entrusted to them (V. 2-4);
  2. Far from protecting the sheep by keeping them in one flock the conduct of the shepherds has led to the sheep being “scattered” (V. 5-6) — a term that signals the exile.

So what God will do is ensure that these false and dangerous shepherds will never have charge of the sheep again:

'Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them’. (V. 7-10).

But what will God put in their place?

The answer is — Himself. He will come to shepherd his sheep.

'For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep…’ (V. 11-12).

Later in the chapter the language changes. God has declared that He Himself will shepherd his flock. Now he says,

‘I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken’. (V. 23-24).

So we are looking for a transforming shepherd who is both God and someone in David’s line. This speaks of no one other than Jesus who is both God (John 1:1) and the son of David (Matthew 1:1). No wonder Jesus described Himself as ‘…the good shepherd…[who] lays down his life for the sheep’. (John 10:11).

I for one am very grateful that Jesus:

  • Knows my name and leads me (V. 3);
  • Has saved me (V. 9); by
  • Laying down His life for me (V. 15); and
  • Was resurrected (V. 17-18).

Truly,

‘The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever’.
(Psalm 23)

Have a good week following The Shepherd,

Pastor Barry

Back to top